It’s okay if you cry

You’re feeling confused and maybe a little scared. Go ahead, cry. It’s okay. Life is overwhelming. There’s so much to do. You don’t know where to start. Even if you did know where to start, you’d second guess yourself anyway. You’d convince yourself that you were wrong and then you’d get confused all over again. So yeah, go ahead, cry. Let it out.

Everyone else is just so on top of it. They know where they’re going and why and how and they’re flying toward that goal like Icarus toward the sun. While inferior you sits on the sidelines and feels nothing but envy. That awful green stuff in your gut that makes you dizzy and nauseous. It’s not fair is it? Everybody else in the know but you’re in the dark. So really, it’s okay – cry. Cry great big buckets of giant tears. Fill the pool or the Jacuzzi with them. I understand. I really do. Let it out. Cry.

You failed. That hurts. A lot. You don’t know why you failed and that hurts more. A lot more. It’s not that you aren’t trying. You are. You’re trying so hard that your brain cells are blistered, your mind is bleeding, and your soul is circling the drain. Go ahead. Cry. It’s really okay.

Then tomorrow….

Start again.

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Never Forgetting – September 11th

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Most everyone who was alive on that day, remembers where they were and what they were doing. For me, it was one of the most difficult days of my life. Most Americans and much of the world were grief-stricken, confused and angry. It brought us together in a way I’d never seen in my life.

I, like many bloggers, took part in a Project 2996 and in the ensuing years, wrote tributes to victims of 911. But as the years have passed, the enthusiasm for never forgetting has waned. Conspiracy theories have taken the place of reverence and our national cynicism has returned. That makes my heart hurt. But people move on. It’s hard to maintain grief. It’s easier to be self-involved, skeptical and worry about your manicure than to carry the weight of a national tragedy. I’m not judging, just observing.

Even I struggle with what to say to commemorate this awful piece of American history. It seems it has all been said – and there is little I can add, if anything.

I suppose all I really want to say is that I still think about that day. I still grieve for the people who died because they were in the wrong place at the wrong time – and for the family and friends they left behind. And I hope that all Americans take at least a moment out of their day on Sunday to say a prayer for the people that we lost and for our country and for each other.

God Bless.

Annie

Thoughts about Dallas

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  • We have to stop killing each other.
  • We have to stop believing that killing each other solves anything.
  • We have to realize that anger unfocused only makes things worse.
  • Are things any better because these husbands, fathers and war veterans are now dead?
  • If you find these deaths cause to celebrate, what does that say about you?
  • How does protesting an unjust death by committing an unjust murder make things right?
  • Is this some kind of competition, where the only goal is the even the score?
  • Whose wounds are now healed because of this?
  • When did we stop valuing all lives?
  • How did we get to this place?
  • How do we get out of this place?

If you want to read about the fallen officers you can here and here.

Or share your story via Twitter #bluestories

Please pray for the police officers and their families and everyone impacted by this terrible event. And that we can find a way to heal without further violence.

Belonging

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When I was a kid, I wanted to belong. A desire common, probably to all children, and adults for that matter. But for reasons that still escape me even now, I never felt like I did. No matter where I was or whom I was with, I always felt a little outside of the circle. Not because of any particular trauma or horrible family existence. Sure, things happened to me when I was a kid but it was ordinary stuff – sibling rivalry, school bullies, mean girls, rebellion, rejection, disappointment, embarrassment, break-ups, change. Normal stuff. That happens to everyone.

But this feeling of being an outsider drove me to write. Poems, disjointed blurbs, ideas, stories, alternate realities. Whatever soothed at the moment. And while writing I didn’t feel like an outsider. I felt at home. I was where I was supposed to be, doing what I was supposed to be doing. Doubts, uncertainties, and fears about myself didn’t live in my writing place. I suppose you could say writing is what brought me peace and clarity.

Not long ago I read an article or a blog post or something about themes in stories. The themes that writers employ in their stories. This particular writer had realized that his stories all had the same over arching theme – finding and connecting with his father. It was simple piece, probably not noticed by many, certainly not one of those posts that go viral. It was quietly profound. At least it made me think. Did I have an over arching theme in my stories? What was it?

I do. All my stories are about belonging. Or rather, wanting to belong.

And I’m okay with that.

And I’ve come to the conclusion that all writers have a theme. It’s dressed up in smart dialogue, breath taking prose, crazy plot lines and subplots, weird or profound characters, humor or tragedy – but it’s there. Always there.

And I think that maybe that’s why we write – to solve and to understand the over arching themes of our personal lives. To play out all the possible scenarios of that which we cannot quite conquer in life. Strive to understand but never quite do.
What about you? Do your stories have the same theme? Or do you gravitate to stories that have the same theme? Do you find comfort in that?

Expectations – Theme Fridays

The discontent of my expectations – I do it without realizing it. Expect things. From myself. From others. Usually they are unfair or unrealistic. It makes me wonder where it all starts – these troublemakers, the expectations.

Was I born with them? Are they are part of my genetic make-up? Part and parcel of being a woman? Or do they not discriminate based on gender? And really, what is their purpose? Reassurance, a mere desire to know the future, to keep me or others in line? No, none of that sounds right, rings true.

I’m sure a head doctor would have a field day with this whole concept – we are preconditioned by society, politicians, the ozone, blah, blah, to set up expectations so that we can prove to ourselves that life means nothing. Or some such. I don’t think that’s true either.

Perhaps it is just one of the many elements of life that works its way into our daily cinema. We can after all, expect that the sun will rise in the morning and set in the evening. That dogs will bark at mailmen. That babies will cry and coo. That if you plant a seed and water it, something will grow. That time passes whether we want it to or not. So then if we can expect these things, why not others?

I think we get into trouble when it comes to other people and ourselves. The human animal, ever a mystery will never respond in the way that you want it to or believe it should. Or more precisely it is the spirit housed in that bag of bones, skin, sinew, flesh and fluids. No matter what anyone thinks or says I do not believe you can own a spirit – of another or yourself. Like a magical mixed up chemistry project, the spirit is both benign and volatile and there is no way to predict which it will be and when it will be. Yet, crazy, unrealistic and ever hopeful spirit that I am, I persist. I think if I can only get the right view of it all, it will make sense and I will understand. I cannot help it, this is the permanent quest of my life – to understand. Myself and others.

And just when I think I may have a bead on it, a sense of something, those assinine expectations sneak in – laying a false foundation and I crash through the floors to the basement or find myself up the fucking chimney. Leaving me to vow never to expect anything ever again. If I could keep that promise, life might be simpler.

Go see what Jess is expecting and then what Christine is expecting – I’m sure it will be worth the trip.

Not Good Enough

Not Good Enough. Ever feel that way? I know I do. Often. Too often. In fact, it is quite possibly the bane of my existence. Well, maybe not the bane of my existence but it is the thing that I have the hardest time shaking and always has been.

When that feeling hits me, I do a little internal search. Why? Why do I feel that way? Is there some deep, dark secret or a devastating buried memory that makes me feel that way? But then, logic never helps when it comes to things like that, does it? It seems the bad feelings, the feelings of inadequacy and non-deserving-ness (yes, I just made up a word) don’t come from a place of logic. They come from a place of feelings. Bad feelings.

But where do those come from? Other people? Did somebody give me a sour look when I was four and had just completed my master mud pie? And did that somehow crush a tiny piece of my soul, which I’ve been trying to get back ever since? Or has it just been a steady and continual erosion over the years. A look here, a word there?

Or worse, does it come from inside me? Just my own self-destructive alter ego, vying for time and attention? It seems I have lots of questions about this but very little in the way of answers.

I sometimes think that that is why I became a writer. To solve the feelings of ‘not good enough’ – as though I believed that if I could just write it out the feelings would evaporate. Never to be seen or heard from again. And in a way, I suppose it’s worked. When I was a kid and I got upset, the first thing I would do was write a poem or a story to work out the feelings or upset. Sometimes it would help and others it would drive me further into the sense of despair and hopelessness. No matter, I still write to some degree for that reason. Though mostly I write because I have something inside of me that needs to get out. It is constantly seeking new and silly ways to get out too. From stories to poems to haikus to jokes, to wise-ass remarks.

I sometimes marvel at this thing. What is it? Where did it come from? Does it belong inside of me or should we see if the zoo has a space for it? Then it ocurs to me that maybe it’s just me trying to get out. Just me, saying, ‘Pay attention to me. I am worthy. I matter.’

The truth is I will probably never know – no matter how much I try. No matter how much I want to know. I will never figure out why I sometimes feel I’m just not good enough. How about you?

WC

Is There Any Good News?

Is there anything good going on in the world, because I need to hear about it. Predictions of $100 a barrell oil (which means $8 a gallon for us?), people nervous about Iran, our leaders have zero percent approval and all of the candidates for the next big race stink. California almost burned to the ground, people get ruder every day, you can’t smoke in your car and several cities apparently, we’re all going to be paying for universal healthcare, Al Gore is a hero, Bin Laden is just misunderstood, taxes will go up, Hillary will win by default, stop signs mean nothing and McDonald’s is considered a restaurant?

I know I could stick my head in the sand and think of only puppy dogs and butterflies. Not read the news or listen to the radio and forget about politics. I could get my hands on some feel good meds and look at the nice sunset. I could write stories where life is fair and everybody lives happily ever after…But…

I’m too scared to look away. Too scared to pretend this too shall pass. Too scared that not enough of us are paying attention. Too scared that the chicken littles are winning the game and we won’t know it until we’re just part of the Matrix.

Things are just looking too much like a bad sci-fi movie to me, with all of us as the unwitting bit players, saying our lines, while thinking about what we’ll have for lunch.

Zelda would say, ‘hey it’s just something to do. It’ll change, it always does.” But does it? Will it? Does the bad never end?

WC

Accident Waiting to Happen?

 

Have you ever known someone who is an accident waiting to happen? My dad  used to say that about my younger sister – albeit affectionately and really joking. But seriously, what about the person, friend, family member, boss, co-worker or neighbor who is always surrounded by controversey, trouble, woes, betrayals and sadness? What’s their story?

I used to think that most people I encountered like this were just drama queens. You know, they craved attention and did much to generate all the noise and sputter themselves? Of course, I’d just dismiss them as a bother. And sometimes it’s true – some people really are drama queens.

Then there are the others. People who are good and kind – who care about others and perhaps even dedicate themselves to helping others – yet, they can’t catch a break. What about them? What karma, pay-back or ugly twist of fate is at play there?

Is it just the luck of the draw? Fate? Reincarnational going around and coming around? Or is it something more sinister and palpable?

Is it someone back there in the shadows pulling the strings like an evil puppet master? Some apparent, well-meaning friend or family member doing things ‘for their own good’ or to ‘help them’?

I think you have to wonder about these things.

For example, I have thought about the Columbine killers (recent events brought it to mind). They were just kids. Certainly it’s possible that they were just born evil – I believe some people are, but were they? Or were they just eaten at day in and day out by a ‘friend’ or relative who claimed to have their best interest at heart. I’m not talking about the bullying excuse. We all get bullied. We all get teased. We all had miserable existences through high school and adolescense. And at least in those cases, we have the potential to fight back. We can employ others to help us, we may not, but we have the potential.

I’m talking about the kind of person in our lives that we can’t fight back against. The one who holds some sway over our lives and maybe even our existence. The ones who make you feel trapped and about whom you can do little or nothing, save moving to the opposite end of the world to escape their reach. Did these boys have such a person in their lives? Why were such young children on chemical re-arranging drugs? I remember my teen years and though, like most of us, I was pretty miserable, there wasn’t anything for which I needed to take mood controlling drugs. (And please, I’m not talking about mental disease here, I’m not discussing clinical depression or situations of that nature). You have to wonder – why were these children drugged and why are so many children drugged today?

Is it really an emotional issue or are they being oppressed by the very people who claim to love and protect them? You have to wonder if these kids or any other person so distraught actually got away from their oppressors if they wouldn’t return to their normal selves. Don’t you?

I’ve had some people in my life who have driven me nuts. Some were just annoying but others weren’t so easy to shrug off or get rid of either. Some were a fixed part of my life and I turned into a different person around them. I became a whimpering, whiney, frightened victim in their presence. One friend in particular made my life miserable for years. I just couldn’t figure out what I’d done to offend her so much. Why I displeased her so much. And found myself in a constant state of trying to make up whatever damage I had done. Have you ever tried to make up for something you didn’t know you did? Ever tried to make right a wrong you never committed? It’s hell and I don’t recommend it.

During the time I was friends with this person, I had three car accidents, stopped writing, was in a perpetual state of tears and was convinced I was just bad to the bone.

I don’t’ remember what the final straw was, only that there was one. That one day I realized that this person  had her own agenda and I had nothing to do with whatever demons she was battling. I was simply an actor in her play. After that, it was easy to walk away. It was easy to let go of the baggage that wasn’t mine. It was easy to be me again. But it was years in the making. Years that were wasted on needless suffering and confusion.

So, if you’re feeling like me – and can’t figure out what’s so bad about you, maybe you too have a friend like her. Or a boss, or teacher or co-worker. My advice: walk away. As fast and as soon as  you can. You’ll find that you really are still there.

WC

Thinking…

Been doing a lot of thinking lately. Sometimes that’s good. Sometimes that’s annoying. Right now, it’s annoying. I’m not really in a thinking mood, you know?

I’d really rather just bum around, enjoy Spring, the sunshine, the birds, the flowers, my ever expanding garden – but….

My darn mind won’t turn off. Everything I see, seems to have some deeper meaning in it. Or maybe it’s all just too serious right now. I’d love to find that goofy, ain’t life a joke flow again. I could stand riding it all the way to the end.

Isn’t it funny how things come in waves? Maybe in life, but definitely as a writer. No matter how much I try to direct my mind and my attention onto a specific mind-set it simply won’t cooperate. It just wants to ponder and think and consider and all that really boring stuff.

What a bother. A mind that refuses to stop thinking. Damn my mind. Damn it all to hell.

I need to find an adventure.Something stupid and ridiculous. Something that I shouldn’t even consider doing. Something that is way beyond excusable for a woman of my age. Do you think they’ll do a spin-off called “Ancient Idol”?

Suggestions?

WC

Friend or Foe?

 

I have, as I’m sure all of you have, encountered some snaky people in my life. Unfortunately, it seems something no normal person can dodge. You are destined to meet and experience at least one. And if one is all you ever have to deal with, consider yourself lucky.

It seems I sort of have this sort of thing happening again. It’s very subtle, so much so that I wonder if I’m imagining it. I wonder if I am simply being paranoid, finding things where in fact nothing exists? It’s possible – I’m not brilliant or anything, nor am I without mistakes (a buttload of them) or flaws (an even bigger boatload of them) – yet I can’t quite shake this sense…of something.

Have you ever had someone in your life who seems to covet, maybe even crave what you have? Now it may be good, great or even not so great, but this person really seems to want it. Whether it’s a pink sweater or an easygoing friendliness with the mailman. You can almost see the craving in the eyes, hear it in their tone and words. Yet when you try to look at it directly, it seems to disappear out of view. (Anybody ever see that movie, Gaslight? I’m saying…)

Naturally, you chastise yourself, believing you are being overly sensitive, imagining motive that isnt there – giving that person the benefit of the doubt, while with yourself you will cut no slack.

Then you start to notice little things – they are suddenly using phrases that you use, making similar jokes, in subtle ways assuming your…I don’t know…is it style? personality? what? And it’s a sort of creepy Twilight Zone experience. First of all, who the hell would want to be me? you ask yourself. What the hell is there to covet? Who knows? Still, you can’t shake the feeling.

These folks also other funny little things. If they feel you’ve been ignoring them, they call or write complaining of it. Acting hurt or worried that you’re upset with them or don’t like them anymore. Honestly, after the age of 10, isn’t this a little strange? In my case, if one of my chums is upset with me I usually know and if I don’t I simply ask, ‘hey, did I piss you off or something?’ Isn’t that normal?

Anyway, I’m not even sure I know where I’m going with this post – maybe it’s a cautionary tale. Maybe it’s just ramble. But I’d say, beware of people who fawn a little too much at you. Beware of those who pursue you a little too often and enthusiastically. Be careful who you take into your confidence and introduce your friends to – because frankly, some people have more than one face and honestly, neither one is very pretty.

WC